10 Lessons To Keep You and Your Start-Up Going When The Going Gets Tuff
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As the year closes, we are due to complete three years and here are some lessons we have learnt along the way:
Be Invested in the Long-Term
As an entrepreneur, the journey is hard, long and arduous but one which is also fun, inspiring and gratifying. You have to be invested in the long term as there are no short-cuts to success and fulfilment. You must never start a business with an intent to make a quick buck - yes, wealth creation is a by-product of that but do not make this the only mission. This approach almost never works. Unless you are solving a real problem that the customer is facing and one that has a larger purpose and impact, this journey will not be as fulfilling you would want it to be.
Merit Trumps Everything Else
If you are a woman founder or a woman in a position of leadership, chances are you would have been made to realise not once but several times in the initial stages of your starting up and otherwise as to what you were doing in a male-dominated business and industry. Women by and large face more complex personal and professional choices and therefore, their decision making is not binary. There are times when you would be judged and questioned but when the people see your work, your ability to lead and the ability to deliver the results as committed, the gender does not matter. Merit truly trumps everything. How do you do that? By becoming indispensable at your job and doing it so well that it does not matter who is doing it.
Have Fun While You Are at it
All said and done, entrepreneurship is a long journey and most times than not a bumpy one at that. Therefore, unless you are committed to it for the long-term and have fun while you are on it, it becomes difficult to move forward as the detractors are many. Find something new to learn every morning. With this enthusiasm, even the most mundane of activities would seem exciting and inspiring.
Bootstrapping is Good but Know When to Raise Funds
Bootstrapping is an essential tool for every founder/founding team. It teaches you the importance of capital and how to manage it efficiently while achieving all that there is to be achieved and how to maximise the resources one has and optimally use them to derive the maximum ROI. Planning a fundraiser is a time-consuming process but the first step in doing this is answering when/why/how much to raise and whom to raise it from.
Focus on Strong Business Fundamentals
With the rising number of start-ups and ventures and the rise of venture capital in India, access to capital has become fairly open. However, this does not necessarily translate into a venture being capital efficient unless there is a strong focus on solid business fundamentals. If the product being built is truly one that positively impacts the eco-system and all its stakeholders, one does not need to artificially discount to increase the top line. Focus on capital efficiency is to be to cascaded by the top management so that every member of the team is conscious of every penny being spent and how the spend across different functions could be reduced while maintaining the quality and the SLAs. This is definitely a collective team effort but one that is driven from the top.
Iterate Fast, Innovate Fast and Fail Fast
In today’s competitive world both the consumers and the folks in the competitive landscape are driven by pace. Given the dynamism, it is absolutely essential to know what does not work and the player that figures this out fastest would emerge as the winner in the long run. Therefore, experiment fast and figure out what does not work so that you can move to the next iteration and then finally crack the right way.
Be Obsessive About Your Customer
Today’s consumer is very intelligent. They exactly know what they want and how they want it. The only way to succeeding in this ultra-competitive world is by keeping what your customers want at the core of everything you do. By spending time with the customers, one opens up a symbiotic relationship with them. With a proactive approach and a genuine intent, nine times out of ten, they will be more than happy to run through what would ensure customer delight.
Passion Triumphs Pedigree
Every start-up wants to attract top talent from all over the country but the truth is that it may not be possible initially because of the lack of resources and the brand equity required to attract top talent. Therefore, the hiring philosophy then should be to hire folks who have the right attitude and passion for something in their life. Passion is not only contagious but is absolutely essential for anyone to flourish and with the right attitude they can pick up anything along the way and perform.
Decision Making is Both Heart and Mind
The best decisions are those which based on both heart and mind. The gut and heart play an important role in all the major decisions during the course starting up and along the journey. Having said that, never underestimate the power of data, facts and figures when making day-to-day decisions. Contrary to popular belief, they both go hand-in-hand.
Win-Win for Everyone
Any deal, unless it is a win-win for all the stakeholders will not withstand the test of time. This is the single most important mandate to help nurture the relationships with all the suppliers, clients, teams etc. in the long run.